Tag Archives: Raazi

In Theaters: May 18, 2018

There are no new Hindi movies releasing into Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning May 18, 2018, which is just as well since the two Bollywood films showing locally have been lighting up the North American box office.

The terrific spy drama Raazi gets a second week at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

The enjoyable family comedy 102 Not Out carries over for a third week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Cantera 17, and AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, and debuts at the Goodrich Randall 15 in Batavia.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend:


Bollywood Box Office: May 11-13, 2018

Raazi had a terrific opening weekend in North American theaters — the second best of the year after Padmaavat, in fact. From May 11-13, 2018, the spy thriller earned $829,795 from 110 theaters* ($7,544 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. The three other Hindi films to have officially earned more than $1 million here so far ended their theatrical runs with total earnings that ranged from 2.38 (Baaghi 2) to 2.89 (Padmaavat) times the amount each film earned in its opening weekend, so a final tally north of $2 million for Raazi is on the table.

102 Not Out also performed really well, hanging onto 60% of its opening weekend business. Bollywood Hungama reports second weekend earnings of $265,800 from 102 theaters ($2,606 average), while Box Office Mojo reports a higher weekend tally of $293,584 ($2,878 average). Box Office Mojo further reports Monday, May 14 earnings of $22,943 — enough to push the film’s total earnings past the seven-digit mark to $1,007,916.

Other Bollywood movies still showing in US theaters:

  • October: Week 5; $1,111 from four theaters; $$278 average; $517,423 total
  • Blackmail: Week 6; $56 from one theater; $300,270 total

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release. When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources, like Box Office Mojo. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts Raazi in 129 theaters (making for a $6,433 per-theater average) and 102 Not Out in 120 theaters ($2,215 average).

Sources: Bollywood Hungama and Box Office Mojo

Movie Review: Raazi (2018)

3.5 Stars (out of 4)

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A young Indian spy marries into a Pakistani military family in the gripping period thriller Raazi, the latest in a string of hit performances by leading lady Alia Bhatt.

Bhatt plays Sehmat, a Delhi college student in 1971 summoned home at the behest of her father, Hidayat (Rajit Kapur), to receive two shocking pieces of news. First, Hidayat reveals that he has just months to live. Second, as a spy himself, Hidayat has spent years cultivating a friendship with Pakistani Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma), who hinted that the military is planning an attack against India. In order to uncover the plot, Hidayat fixed Sehmat’s marriage to Syed’s son, Iqbal (Vicky Kaushal), so that she may act as a spy in her father’s stead.

The movie’s very title (“Raazi” translates to “Agree”) informs us that this isn’t an order but a plan that requires Sehmat’s consent. Hidayat’s fatherly instincts kick in, and he encourages her to go back to college just hours after his revelation. There’s also a sense from Hidayat and other characters of his generation that young people deserve to make their own choices — in contrast to their own youth when the buildup and aftermath of Partition forced them to act out of necessity.

Sehmat agrees to the marriage plan, assuring her father that she’s acting out of an inherited sense of patriotism, not obedience. She undertakes a month of training under Khalid Mir (Jaideep Ahlawat), who also wants to be sure that she’s doing this of her own volition. He’s hard on Sehmat because — even though there’s a plan in place to rescue her in case of trouble — she’ll be largely on her own, responsible for finding intel and relaying it to Mir in secret via a convoluted spy network.

It’s worth noting in relation to Mir that the film’s story — at least initially — is kind of confusing, at least for those whose history education focused on countries other than India or Pakistan. A lot of characters with secret allegiances are introduced right away, and there are mentions of separatist groups — which Mir may have been a part of, I’m not sure — that most of the audience will get, but that flew past white, American me.

After the initial information overload, the story itself and the relationships between characters simplify. Most of the action takes place at the spy training ground or in and around Sehmat’s in-laws’ house, and details of the brewing military conflict are less important than what’s happening to Sehmat. The 2017 multilingual film The Ghazi Attack deals with events in the same time period, and watching it beforehand gave me enough background information for me to walk out of Raazi feeling like I understood what happened.

Raazi is ultimately about its characters more than the military conflict. Sehmat not only faces challenges as a rookie spy but as a new bride as well, forced to integrate into a new family. Pure luck finds her married to a good man who is as surprised by their abrupt betrothal as she is. Iqbal’s compassion allows their relationship to develop naturally, and their romance adds a layer of complexity that Sehmat did not anticipate.

Every actor in this movie is terrific — from key players like Sharma as Sehmat’s kind father-in-law to the guy working at the flower stall and the sympathetic military wives — enabling Raazi to cast a spell that never breaks. Kapur and Kaushal are stellar, whether they are in the background of a scene or if they’re sobbing with the young woman they both love.

Alia Bhatt’s star power is beyond question. She effortlessly portrays Sehmat’s youthful inexperience and her fierce determination, provoking the same protective instincts from the audience that Sehmat inspires in her mentors in espionage. This is a wonderful performance by Bhatt in a thoroughly engrossing film.


Opening May 11: Raazi

Alia Bhatt stars in the period spy thriller Raazi, directed by Talvar‘s Meghna Gulzar, co-written by Lootera scribe Bhavani Iyer, and based on the book Calling Sehmat by Harinder Sikka. Raazi releases in Chicago area theaters on May 11, 2018.

Raazi opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

After a great opening weekend, the comedy-drama 102 Not Out carries over for a second week at the River East 21, MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison, Cantera 17, and AMC Rosemont 18 in Rosemont.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend: